Ning Pro accounts have the ability to offer a fully branded Music Player, but if your Ning Network isn’t all about music, there are a number of lightweight options that may work for you that are worth checking out. I did a little research and tried out a few services myself in the hope that I could find a few decent alternatives for Creators who like having music but don’t need a full-fledged player.
A few things to keep in mind…
Nullum Gratuitum Prandium *
There’s an undeniable truth about online services that offer music and/or embeddable widgets: It’s not cheap to host millions of songs. As a consequence, there are few completely free services that have survived with this business model (a great case in point is imeem, which shut down last year). But, there are still a few out there.
White label generally isn’t free
Some of these services include advertising or branding from the company that makes the player. Some of them offer limited functionality for free — and more options for a price. For most of these, the cost is reasonable. If branding is of utmost importance to you, check the FAQ pages for each service to confirm their policies about logos and branding.
Some of the players will auto-resize, but some aren’t easily scalable in their dimensions, so you should experiment and make sure one really fits into one of the columns of your Ning Network.
Sign-up to play
All of these services will require you to create an account in their system. It’s usually quite easy, although at least one requires a connection to your Facebook account. Most include ads or links back to their home page. If you’re uncomfortable with that, you may want to consider a Ning Pro account, which allows you to offer an unbranded, fully hosted Music Player that offers complete control.
Check your tech
With all of those caveat emptors
, here's a list of some you might want to try...
If you haven’t already tried the Muziic Ning App
, it’s easy to install and test out. Every Ning plan can take advantage of it for free, so give it a try and see what you think.
If you simply want a way to play a few music tracks on your Ning Network, Playlist.com
is one to try. They have a decent song selection and a good-looking (albeit branded) player. Their FAQs.
offers another decent-looking player, and it also offers something you’ll notice is becoming more prevalent with embeddable music widgets: it plays video in addition to audio. Many of these players pull their content from YouTube (a big host of content for a lot of scrappy start-ups), which you might consider more awesome — or not. It depends on what you prefer. Their FAQs
is a very hip choice. It allows you to upload (at least) eight songs to make a simple playlist, which you can then embed on your Ning Network. What’s great about this service is that other people share public playlists, so you can find some great mixes. This is a good choice if you aren’t tied to the idea that your music player must be like a jukebox and only play songs you want in the order you want. More info.
If you’re a musician who wants to offer your own music for sale directly on your Ning Network, you should absolutely try Bandcamp
. It’s a very cool service that is tailor-made for independent artists who want to advertise their own music.
is a Flash player made by SnackTools, which offers similar services for podcasts and other types of media. It allows you to upload tracks and create a nicely designed, unobtrusive music player. However, the free player will only allow you to play 1:30 of your songs. Purchasing isn’t unreasonable, but this isn’t a good choice if you insist on having a free player. Their FAQs.
was purchased by MySpace last year, which makes it a very popular choice. Will you like iLike? There’s only one way to find out. Try it out. Their FAQs.
Share your own here
These are just a few to get you started. The main thing I’ve learned from researching embeddable music players is that none of them will allow you to have the kind of complete control you’ll get with the Ning Music Player available to Ning Pro. But, if you simply want a short playlist of songs for your members to enjoy, you should definitely try a few out and see what you think.
I know the people here on Creators are a resourceful bunch and will share their own ideas and experiences with other, similar services they’ve encountered and tried. So, have at it and offer your own suggestions!